BALTIMORE (WJZ) — BGE is sending crews to help restore power and repair infrastructure that was destroyed in Hurricane Maria.
It has been four months, and 40 percent of Puerto Rico is still in the dark.
Puerto Rico native Rafael Olazagasti is part of the Baltimore 21-person relief crew.
“It’s heart warming that we can actually go down as far as we are and help them with the hardship that they’re going through,” Olazagasti said.
The power outages started with Hurricane Irma in September. The following month, Hurricane Maria finished the job.
“It’s difficult because it’s something that we take for granted here. It’s something that is a basic necessity,” said Faviola Donato-Galindo, senior external affairs specialist.
Crews on the island have made progress but need help getting to some of the hardest hit areas.
“We’re going to encounter some rough terrain, but like any other trip, safety is priority number one,” said Jamar Harris, distribution supervisor at BGE, who will be supervising employees in Puerto Rico.
BGE officials say helping Puerto Rico will not hinder the power company’s ability to respond to outages or service interruptions in central Maryland.
“That’s part of the planning process. We’re going to make sure that we have the resources in place,” Justin Mulcahy, BGE communications manager.
Trucks and equipment are being shipped out and in mid-February, the Maryland crew will be on the ground to install new poles, lines and transformers in the city of Caguas — which is Donato-Galindo’s hometown.
“They know that they can rebuild and come back again and be stronger. It’s just going to take some time,” she said.
The BGE crews, which are part of the Exelon Corp. network of power companies, will be in Puerto Rico for about 30 days — or possibly longer. In total, 140 workers from the U.S. will head to Puerto Rico next month.
“We are happy to provide assistance to the people of Puerto Rico and do so without jeopardizing our ability to respond to outages in our central Maryland service area, Stephen J. Woerner, president and chief operating officer of BGE, said in a release. “Our employees look forward to helping Puerto Rico rebuild its electric system and are committed to making a significant impact in getting Puerto Rico back to normal.”